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Alpine “deserved” first overall WEC win at red-flagged Sebring

Alpine “deserved” to take a long-awaited first outright triumph in the FIA World Endurance Championship in a red-flagged Sebring 1000 Miles, say the French marque’s drivers.

#36 Alpine ELF Team Alpine A480 - Gibson: André Negrão, Nicolas Lapierre, Matthieu Vaxiviere

Photo by: Paul Foster

Nicolas Lapierre, Andre Negrao and Matthieu Vaxiviere proved the class of the field at the Florida track aboard their Alpine A480-Gibson grandfathered LMP1, converting their pole position into a comfortable win over the sole surviving Toyota GR010 Hybrid.

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It followed a frustrating 2021 season for the Signatech-run outfit, which managed a pair of second places in its first season of running in the top Hypercar category last year with its Oreca-designed ex-Rebellion R-13, but otherwise failed to challenge Toyota.

Vaxiviere was at the wheel of the Alpine, more than a minute clear of Sebastien Buemi’s #8 Toyota, when the race was stopped for a second time with around an hour to go due to thunderstorms in the area.

An attempt to restart the race was made, but the weather failed to improve and a result was finally declared with around 15 minutes left on the clock.

“It was a bit stressful for me at the end in the car, so I’m really happy,” said Vaxiviere. “The team did an amazing job all week [including the Prologue test].

“We've deserved it since last year, we were struggling a bit to win a race, so it’s really good to motivate everyone as well, so really happy.”

 

Lapierre added: “This red flag especially at the end was not really great for us, we were fortunate the race didn’t restart, but I want to say thanks to the boys, they’ve been working really hard this winter to make this car [better].

“Last year was the first year in this category for the team, and I feel they made a huge step forward and we were ready to fight. This is really great for us.”

The first red flag of the race came after Jose Maria Lopez suffered a major crash in the #7 Toyota, which had the effect of resetting the battle between the Alpine – which had pitted not long before the stoppage – and the #8 car.

“We’ve been expecting this [win] since last season,” said Negrao. “We started on the right foot here in Sebring.

“It was a tough race for everyone, red flag and then green, and then red again… congratulations to these boys [Lapierre and Vaxiviere], amazing job from the team as well. It’s crazy.”

Sebring marked the first overall victory for a team other than Toyota in the WEC since the 2020 race at the Circuit of the Americas, which was won by Rebellion Racing.

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